Preventing & Responding to Racism

You would be hard pressed to find a coach or player who has never witnessed or directly experienced racism in soccer. Racist incidents happen every day, at every level of soccer.  This is something that makes soccer less safe for everyone. So let’s talk about racism – what it is, and how it hurts our teammates, our team, our sport, and our society. Just like you have a plan for inclement weather, let’s have a plan for how we will respond when a racist incident occurs in our space.

Inclusive coaching lays the foundations to have hard conversations, to strengthen trust, and to share diverse perspectives. But even with all of these foundations, it is likely that we will experience racist incidents within and around our teams. Antiracist coaches must build on these foundations by proactively educating ourselves about how to recognize and respond directly to racism, and how to take a stand against racism as a team.

"Monkey noises, jeering, and even the N-word. Our youth have heard it all. Yes, racism is alive in youth soccer, unsubtle and out in the open. This very well could be happening on the sidelines at your local park."

– Andrew So, South Bronx United

Key Coaching Points


Each of us must understand that racism exists, and that racist incidents happen every day at every level of soccer


We must learn to recognize and respond directly to incidents of racism


As a team, we must be clear on our stance against racism, and how we will inspire others by our example

Coach Training: Key Resource

The National Museum of African American History & Culture offers a series of resources to support educators entitled: Talking About Race. In this resource, coaches will learn the about four different types of racism and reflect on their own experiences as well as ways to take action.

Being an antiracist coach results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection. In the absence of making antiracist choices, we (un)consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society. Being racist or antiracist is not about who you are; it is about what you do. Through Switch the Pitch, coaches can build on these resources and challenge their team to prevent and respond to racism on the field and off.

Talking About Race: Being Antiracist
A list of questions to respond to interpersonal racism

Team Challenges

Stories from the Field:

Preventing & Responding to Racism

In this challenge, players will draw on real-life examples from the soccer world to engage in meaningful discussion about the ways preventing and responding to racism creates safe spaces in our communities



Card It!

In this activity, players will categorize different types of racism using analogies to soccer



Restorative Practices

This activity will mimic what a restorative conversation might look like when it comes to addressing conflict between two players on the field



Creating Safe Spaces

In this challenge, teams will work together to establish a positive team culture in their own environment



What Would You Do?

This challenge will ask players to think about incidents of racism, both subtle and overt, and ways in which they would respond



Ripple Effect

In this challenge, as a team you will select an activity that you have already completed to share with another team(s)


Stories from the Field

The Not-So-Beautiful Game

Racism on Your Local Youth Soccer Pitch

  1. What can and should be done to make sure young athletes can experience the joy of the game without fear of encountering racism?
  2. According to the author, how do parents and fans perpetuate this problem?
  3. Why is soccer arguably more prone to racism than other sports, according to the author?

Alves Responds

Villarreal give life ban to rogue fan who threw banana at Dani Alves

  1. What do you make of Dani Alves’ decision to eat the banana that was thrown at him?
  2. Why do you think these sorts of incidents continue to happen at professional games? Who is responsible for ensuring these incidents stop?

Rashford Reacts

Marcus Rashford Reacts to Racist Abuse

  1. In a separate context to that of Marcus Rashford, Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku is known for saying “When things were going well, I was Lukaku the Belgian striker…when they weren’t going well, I was the Belgian striker of Congolese descent.” What do these incidents reveal about the relationship between race and nationalism? Could you imagine something similar happening in the United States?
  2. What responsibility should social media companies have in limiting racist abuse that takes place online?